This blog is the work of Loyola University Chicago's Advanced Reporting class for Spring 2011. We will be researching and writing about mental illnesses and brain diseases in an effort to educate the general public about the issues surrounding mental health. We hope to reduce the stigma of mental illness and present accurate and fair reporting on current mental health issues.
Recently, there was a high reaction to a Waunakee, Wis High School's varsity dance routine. The routine titled "We Get Crazy," featured dancers in costumes that resemble straitjackets with the words "Psych Ward" imprinted on the back. They also wore dark makeup, messy hair, and snarled throughout the routine. The reaction comes from the Wisconsin Family Ties, a facility that serves families dealing with children and teens with emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders.
I completely understand Wisconsin Family Ties' accusations, calling the routine "insensitive." To portray those with certain disorders as being in straitjackets and snarling is a stereotype that should have been broken decades ago. In the U.S. we have drastically altered how we treat those with mental disorders. We've gone from completely ostracizing and torturing to caring and developing new methods of treatments. To have a dance portray our old image of those suffering with mental disorders only shifts us back 50 years.
It is easy to brush off the dance routine as "kids being kids."However, it is necessary to put a stop to this type of thinking during adolescence. If the dancers, or the rest of the student body learn how their actions have negative effects, then it will encourage them to understand and help those with mental disorders.